New Irish aid environment policy - environment policy for sustainable development

Irish Aid is stepping up its commitment to the environment. This evening the Minister of State for Irish Aid and Human Rights, Conor Lenihan TD, will be joined by Mary Robinson, President of the Ethical Globalisation Initiative, to launch Irish Aid's Environment Policy for Sustainable Development.

The policy sets out Irish Aid's objectives in the area of environmental sustainability and proposes concrete strategies to achieve these aims. Ahead of tonight's launch, Minister Lenihan said:

"Recent international reports illustrate all too graphically how we are all under threat from climate change - but particularly those living in developing countries. They will suffer the brunt of the negative impacts of climate change although they contribute little to the causes of the problem.

It is the poorest members of these societies who are most vulnerable. Lives and livelihoods are destroyed due to floods, drought and severe storms.

Effective responses to climate change require action across the entire Irish Aid programme and close coordination with national and international partners. This new policy will ensure that environmental concerns remain at the heart of Irish Aid's work."

The Environment Policy for Sustainable Development makes recommendations for how Irish Aid can better integrate environmental sustainability into its development programmes, partnerships and systems. This is essential if Irish Aid is to make an effective contribution to reducing the impact of climate change on developing countries.

Note for editors:

The environment is one of the priority 'cross-cutting' issues of the Irish Aid programme. Today's Environment Policy for Sustainable Development recognises that key opportunities to address environmental issues exist in programme areas such as health, governance, agriculture, rural development and emergency and recovery.

It is estimated that 90% of all natural disasters are climate, weather and water related. The vast majority of these disasters occur in developing countries. As a result of climate change, these disasters are becoming more frequent. Irish Aid will work with these countries to help them adapt to climate change.

Irish Aid works with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to meet Ireland's international environmental commitments. Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to assist developing countries to adapt to climate change, to conserve biodiversity and to halt dryland degradation are jointly funded and implemented. Since 2005, Ireland has committed over €2 million a year in dedicated resources to address climate change in developing countries.

Environment Policy for Sustainable Development will be launched this evening at a reception to mark Ireland's hosting of an OECD workshop (26 - 27 April) on the opportunities and challenges presented by the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness. The focus of the workshop is on gender equality, human rights and environmental sustainability. Over 120 representatives from donor and developing countries and NGOs are attending the Dublin workshop.